Google’s Guardians

An ecosystem of Google-funded academics, think tankers and hangers-on will fan out to defend the search giant from the Justice Department’s antitrust case.

At the turn of the last century, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) was locked in battle with Microsoft. The Washington-based trade group, which represented many industry players that struggled to survive amid Microsoft’s desktop and browser monopoly, called for the company’s breakup, and was a complainant in a major antitrust case before the European Union.

Then in November 2004, CCIA and Microsoft reached a settlement for $19.75 million. Confidential documents from the Financial Times revealed that $9.75 million of that, almost half the total, went directly as a “one-time bonus” to Ed Black, CCIA’s president and chief executive officer. The unusual deal frustrated CCIA members, leading phone manufacturer Nokia to resign from the group’s board.

Today, CCIA isn’t on the opposite side of Google, which was hit on Tuesday with the most consequential U.S. antitrust suit since the Microsoft case. That’s because, instead of being paid on the back end, CCIA has been taken care of up front. Google is actually a member of CCIA, and lists the organization among those that receive “the most substantial contributions” from the company. (The list is six pages long, incidentally.)

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